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Pitt coach's verbal blasts help offensive lineman

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
 

After 13 days of spring drills, Pitt's offensive linemen know when to expect the explosion.

"They have started looking over their shoulders," said line coach Jim Hueber, who has verbally prodded his players for most of the past month. "They know it's coming. If something's wrong, they know I'm watching. They are getting used to me somewhat."

No one seems to mind Hueber's blasts.

"Coach is on us every day," guard Cory King said. "It's nice to have him on us. It makes us perform better."

The result is that Pitt has found five reliable blockers ?— guards King and Ryan Schlieper, tackles Juantez Hollins and Matt Rotheram and center Ryan Turnley. Also, sixth-year senior Chris Jacobson is expected back from a knee injury later this summer.

The trick is to keep everyone healthy. Offensive line depth isn't one of the team's strengths.

"I think there are some guys who are trying, but I am not happy with that part of it (the depth) at all," Hueber said. "Some of these young guys have not stepped up like I thought they would."

The problem: The backups have almost no experience. Guard Arthur Doakes, who played in six games last year, earned a letter, but tackles Tom Ricketts (a Penn State transfer) and junior college transfer Zenel Demhasaj (redshirt) didn't play.

Most of the remainder of the reserves, with the exception of senior tackle and converted tight end Justin Virbitsky, are redshirt freshmen and sophomores.

Tino leading

Coaches don't like to talk about depth charts in the spring, but it's clear Tino Sunseri stands well ahead of everyone else at quarterback.

"He has separated himself from the other quarterbacks," coach Paul Chryst said. "He has made some strides, and I still think there are areas where he can continue to really get better."

Nonetheless, Chryst wants to see more progress in the passing game.

"We're going forward, but I think we have quite a ways to go, still," he said.

In good taste

Former Pitt players Torrie Cox, Kris Wilson and Lousaka Polite will be hosts for the Dessert Tasting For A Cause from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Larrimor's, Downtown.

Guests will sample desserts from several area bakeries and restaurants, with proceeds benefiting the players' charity youth foundations.

To purchase tickets, go to DessertTastingForACause.com .

Notable

Defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell has a sprained knee that won't require surgery, and he's expected to return when camp opens in August. ... With Ejuan Price recovering from pectoral surgery, Shane Gordon is getting work at inside and outside linebacker.

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